The group’s debut album, Guitar Beat, was recorded in England in April 1981 with Martin Rushent producing. Rushent had garnered acclaim as the producer of the Buzzcocks and the Stranglers. Beggar’s Banquet, the parent company of Don’t Fall Off the Mountain, was in negotiations with Rushent regarding salary, and while those went on, the Raybeats were forced to “sit in London for a month with nothin’ to do and no money,” Christensen recalled. When an amount was finally reached between the label and the producer, the Raybeats journeyed to Rushent’s brand new studio, located at the 15th Century village of Goring-on-Thames.
“It was a beautiful studio,” Christensen recalled, “and we were the first to try it out.”
The band members were enthusiastic about working with Rushent, who stepped into the project with an already impressive resume under his belt; however, Rushent seemed more preoccupied with working out the bugs in his new studio than in working with the Raybeats.
“He was still shakin’ it all out,” Christensen said. “He was still figuring out the new studio while recording us.”
Despite being irked by Rushent’s preoccupation with his new studio, the band members found him to be quite appealing on a personal level.
“Martin Rushent was a very personable fellow,” Christensen said. “He was fun to hang out with, and he was definitely a master of the studio. But, we didn’t see eye-to-eye on how to make the record. I don’t think he’d had much experience with guitar-oriented bands like the Raybeats. The record company wanted us to have a ‘big name’ producer, but I don’t think he was the right choice for us.”
Although he may not have been the ideal choice for producing an instrumental combo, Amis thought Rushent “did a good job of keeping our enthusiasm up. Since Martin had had so much commercial success, and with the music industry so unpredictable, we had pretty high hopes [for the album].”
The band’s hopes would soon fade. Although the British and American versions of the album (it was released in the states by PVC/Jem) debuted to critical raves, sales were dismal.
“The sad thing was that we had a difficult time getting the industry to take instrumentals seriously,” Amis recalled. “That was surprising, given that we had no trouble winning over fans and critics.”
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